Follow TV Tropes


Not-So-Forgotten Birthday

Go To

A major character is sure everybody's forgotten their birthday (or perhaps a similar occasion) and wanders around in an angry funk until surprise! They not only remembered it, they threw a Surprise Party!

The instigating factors in this plot are often that the character who is having a birthday often never actually comes out and says that it is their birthday, ("Hey, guess what day it is?" or "Isn't today a special day?") and the other characters further complicate by answering ambiguously. ("Seems like any other day to me.")

These sorts of plots are fueled by Poor Communication Kills and often have shades of Idiot Plot because they could be resolved by one of two simple actions. Main Character: "Hey, it's my birthday!" or Supporting Character: "Happy Birthday, [character]!" then saying they simply hadn't heard anything about a party yet. However, then there wouldn't be much episode to be had.

A subtrope of Birthday Episode. May overlap with The Complainer Is Always Wrong. For the version about the birthday of a marriage (that is, a wedding anniversary), see Forgotten Anniversary.

If the birthday is truly forgotten, or if nobody cares about it, it may lead to One-Person Birthday Party. Contrast Ironic Birthday, when the birthday character is stressed or depressed about something other than their surprise party.


    open/close all folders 

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 93 takes place on Wolffy's birthday, but the other wolves seem to have forgotten and Wolnie pushes him out of Wolf Castle. Wolffy hears various animals singing "Happy Birthday to You!" and starts to get fed up with it, leading to Weslie pulling a prank on him using his birthday as the basis. Later, Wolffy sees the others in Wolf Castle having a party and ruins it, thinking they're having fun without him and not realizing until afterwards that the party was for him.
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Jalebi's Birthday", Jalebi is asked by Samosa, Dhokla, and Vada to help them to do various tasks, all on her birthday: Samosa needs help putting a radio together, Dhokla needs to be untangled from some lights, and Vada needs help getting off of a non-working escalator. None of them acknowledge Jalebi's birthday, even when Jalebi asks them if they have anything to say other than "thank you for helping me"; understandably, this frustrates her quite a bit. Turns out they all had a surprise party planned for her, and all of the things she helped them with were involved in the party somehow - the radio is used to play "Happy Birthday to You", the lights are party decorations, and the escalator Vada was on is located in the Masala Mall where the party takes place.

    Comic Books 
  • This happens to Donald Duck in "The Duck that Never Was", a Don Rosa comic story celebrating the 60th anniversary of Donald's creation. However, the "forgotten birthday" plot is really only briefly touched upon and Donald, unlike most of the examples of the trope, does directly tell his nephews that it's his birthday when they pretend they've forgotten.
  • Hellblazer issue "Forty" is dedicated to such a party. Swamp Thing shows up furious, but tries to play along and make the best of it when he learns it wasn't John who called him and the gathering is meant to be a surprise party.
  • A Little Archie Comics story presented a subversion of this. Veronica tells Archie that she thinks her dad has forgotten it's her birthday - and he has, because he's busy making plans for next week's Founder's Day celebration. Fortunately for him, Archie thinks he's planning a surprise party for Veronica and rounds up everyone to take part in it.
  • Robin: Tim forgot his own birthday due to being busy as Robin, turning the small party his stepmother put together with his girlfriend into a surprise party at the last minute.
  • The main story of the Rocket Raccoon comic "Storytailer" begins with Rocket throwing a One-Person Birthday Party for himself, apparently believing that none of the other Guardians of the Galaxy remembered his birthday. Groot cheers him up by giving him a Treasure Map, prompting the two of them to search for the chest. When Rocket finds and opens the chest, a birthday cake rises out, and the other Guardians emerge from the shadows to wish him a happy birthday. Rocket actually bawls from disappointment, since the chest didn't have money inside.
  • In one Spider-Man comic book, Mary Jane forgets her own birthday! (Due in part to stress over being blacklisted by Jonathan Caesar.) As a result, the surprise party Peter arranges shocks even her.

  • In the early John Hughes film Sixteen Candles, the Forgotten Birthday trope is played straight - and for laughs - when Sam's sixteenth birthday has been ignored by her entire family. It didn't help that her older sister's wedding was the same weekend, but still it becomes the start of a long Humiliation Conga Line for her.
  • Played with in McFarland, USA. It's subverted when Coach White really forgets the cake and is late to his daughter Julie's birthday dinner (due to an extended cross country practice), then played straight with her surprise quinceanera.
  • In The Smurfs 2, the Smurfs prepare a surprise party for Smurfette, but make it look like they have forgotten about her birthday, which unfortunately sets off the whole "time-travel-to-rescue-Smurfette-from-Gargamel" plot.

  • There was a Garfield kids' book where Garfield thought everyone forgot his birthday, but what actually happened was that Garfield himself forgot which day his birthday was on and misremembered it being one day earlier than it really was; the party happened on the correct day.
  • A variant of this happens in a Geronimo Stilton book; in "Valentine's Day Disaster", Geronimo's friends and family are nowhere to be seen and he has not received anything in the mail... but just when it seems like he's given up hope in the evening, it's revealed that they threw him a Surprise Party, and shower him with gifts.
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry thought his friends had forgotten his birthday, but it was actually the result of an I Never Got Any Letters plot. The Dursleys forgot or ignored his birthday for real, however. (The Dursleys usually remember Harry's birthdays, if only to give him insulting presents such as Uncle Vernon's old socks.)
  • The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love: In one scene Cesar the band leader has turned 38 while the band is on the road, and is hurt that nobody remembered. His brother Nestor wishes him happy birthday and apologizes for forgetting. Then Cesar opens the door to his hotel room and finds a gorgeous naked hooker inside.
  • Subverted in Patricias Secret by Ruth Dagget Leinhauser. Patricia thinks her father has forgotten her birthday since he doesn't mention it. She didn't have a calendar. It was actually the following day.
  • Subverted slightly in Donna Parker: Special Agent, by Marcia Martin. Her family remembers that it's her birthday, but her best friend has apparently forgotten, except that she hasn't; she's organized the surprise party.
  • Played with in Reaper Man, when Windle Poons is upset no-one remembered his death-daynote , and even thinks to himself "It was like having your birthday forgotten, only worse." Then he blunders into a surprise "going-away" party being held by the other wizards.
  • In the Sesame Street picture book Abby's Pink Party, Elmo tries to cheer up Abby Cadabby, who is sad because she thinks everyone forgot her birthday. The book ends with her surprise party.
  • The subplot of a Sweet Valley High book has Jessica pulling this trope on her best friend Lila. Everyone actually does remember that it's her birthday but they pretend that they aren't planning a party. Lila actually sees through it, but as time goes on and everyone acts more and more indifferent and clueless, she becomes increasingly and genuinely hurt and angry that her supposed friends aren't throwing a party for her and even Jessica starts to worry that they've gone too far. It all works out in the end.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield once spent his entire birthday walking around corners faking a surprise, expecting Jon and Odie waiting for him with a birthday cake, only to find nothing there. Depressed, thinking that everyone forgot, he decides to go to bed. That's when Jon and Odie spring the surprise.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dumbo's Circus uses this trope on Dumbo's birthday.
  • Lamb Chop's Play-Along: "Charlie Horse's Birthday" combines this with We Want Our Jerk Back!. Charlie Horse tries to be nicer to everyone in hopes that it will make them remember his birthday, but only makes them uncomfortably confused, and when the surprise party is revealed, they assure him that they love him just the way he is.
  • Sesame Street: The final scene of the "Surprise" music video shows Big Bird on his birthday moping sadly through the street thinking everyone forgot it. He then enters Hooper's Store to find a giant gift box on the counter, which he unwraps to reveal his birthday cake, and everyone surprises him.
  • Under the Umbrella Tree uses this trope on Iggy's birthday.
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss uses this plot for Terrence McBird's birthday in the episode, "The Cat in the Hat's Big Birthday Surprise". Whenever Terrence asks the Cat in the Hat to guess what day it is, as part of the Cat's plan to keep the party a surprise, he tells Terrence it's his "bird (insert activity here) day".

  • In Another Case of Milton Jones, Milton makes a throwaway mention of the entire nation of Britain pretending to forget the Queen's official birthday. Despite this, a later episode shows that they forget his birthday every year.

  • In Disney's Believe, by the end of the show, Dr. Greenaway is able to properly celebrate Sophia's birthday with tons of Disney characters and gives her a fabulous cake and presents.
  • In Pokémon Live!, Misty is upset with Ash because he never took her to the movies for her birthday as he promised. At the end, he makes it up for it by giving her the Diamond Badge he just won.

    Video Games 
  • In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, Blue Bear of the Brothers Bear is blue not only literally, but figuratively, because he thinks the rest of the brothers forgot his birthday. Blizzard Bear did actually remember and already bought a present for Blue, but he's been preparing to summit the snowy mountain of K3 and couldn't get to Blue's house in time, so he asks the Kongs to deliver the present for him. Blue finds the bowling ball inside the present too heavy for himself and gives it to the Kongs, but he's happy that he received a present anyway and cheers up on subsequent visits.
  • In Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Obito, Kakashi & Minato pretend they forgot about Rin's birthday so they can surprise her later. Having heard that the boys forgot Rin's birthday from said girl, a raging and furious Kushina comes and asks the boys to explain themselves. Minato tries to calm Kushina, to no avail. The fight starts, Kushina is in permanent Awakening mode.

    Web Original 


Video Example(s):


Boys in the Band

Timmy discovers his parents didn't forget his birthday after all -- his birthday wasn't until THE NEXT DAY.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotSoForgottenBirthday

Media sources: